SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY, Pa. — On December 23, Barnes Kasson received 1,500 vaccines to give to the first group of health care workers who chose to get vaccinated. That group that the Department of Health designated 1A was about 400 people leaving more than 1,000 doses. After reaching out to other health care groups in the area that didn't need any extra vaccines, Barnes Kasson administrators decided to move on to those in the 1B group that included teachers.
"Logically, I was under the impression that we move right down to 1B. Evidently, that's not how some people in the Department of Health feel we should be doing it. So we've been paused by the Department Of health as far as continuing with 1B," said Barnes Kasson's David Passetti.
Barnes Kasson works with the three school districts in Susquehanna County. In the last 10 days, about 90 teachers and faculty in the Blue Ridge School District received vaccines. Susquehanna Community School District had just under 70 faculty members vaccinated. Mountain View was getting ready to schedule its vaccinations when Pasetti says he received a call from the state to stop immediately.
"There's people out there who need the vaccine. If we're going to get serious about mitigation in this country, the vaccine is one of the big answers, if not the big answer. And it just seems to make no sense to be sitting on vaccine when I have the availability of it."
Elementary schools across the commonwealth are encouraged to bring students back to school beginning on Monday. Administrators say having teachers at both Blue Ridge and Susquehanna Community vaccinated was beneficial to that initiative.
"For many teachers, this was a blessing. They had worried about contracting COVID, and this vaccine gave them a renewed sense of confidence to come back into the world of live face-to-face education," said Susquehanna Community Superintendent Bronson Stone.
Newswatch 16 also spoke with Blue Ridge Superintendent Matthew Button, who also echoed the statement that it was a relief for faculty in his school district. Especially students in elementary school benefit from being back in school.
Barnes Kasson officials tell us they received both an email and a phone call from the Pennsylvania Department of Health telling them to stop giving vaccinations. Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine told reporters on Friday that no one was told to stop any vaccinations in Pennsylvania.